Liberty prof & son killed in crash

LYNCHBURG, Va. (BP)--Jill Jones, associate professor of graduate education in Liberty University's school of education, and her 16-year-old son Nicholas ("Niko") were killed in a three-car crash Aug. 8 in Roanoke County, Va.

An oncoming SUV traveling at a high rate of speed ran a red light and struck the car driven by Jones, 41, which was crossing the intersection along with the third vehicle, according to news reports.

The driver and passenger in the oncoming car and the lone occupant of the other car were hospitalized.

Authorities are investigating whether the driver of the first car, Paul Harris, 42, was under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

Jones, who joined Liberty's faculty in 2007, and her son, who were wearing seatbelts, died at the scene. They were traveling home from Illinois after visiting her mother; the accident occurred around 12:30 a.m. Aug. 8.

"The entire university community is deeply saddened by the sudden loss of Dr. Jones and her son," Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. said. "Dr. Jill Jones was one of Liberty University's finest faculty members. I have heard from many how she was an extremely competent professor and a committed Christian who went the extra mile with her students, showing them how teaching could be not only a profession but a ministry."

Falwell said his own son was a classmate of Nicholas Jones, a junior at Liberty Christian Academy. The loss also hits hard at Thomas Road Baptist Church, where Jones and her family were members. Jones was active in her Sunday School class and served as a "mentor mom."

Beth Ackerman, associate dean of Liberty's school of education who started a Facebook page to remember Jones' life, said Jones brought "high energy" to her job as well as "high standards."

"She loved being at Liberty. She used to say how much she loved being able to pray over her students and sharing her faith. She would share this with me every time I saw her," Ackerman said. "... She was one of our toughest professors, but she was loved and respected."

Jones specifically focused on mentoring young women and recently wrote a women's devotional, "The Princess Journal: A 30 Day Journey of Learning to Live Like a Daughter of The King," published by Liberty University Press. Jones, who formerly taught at Florida Atlantic University, had traveled the country to speak at educational and women's conferences.

On Jones' online faculty profile page, she lists her three passions as "1) God, 2) My family and 3) education."

Jones also wrote in her profile: "If I could give everyone only one piece of advice it would be the following, 'Greet each day by sliding out of bed and hitting your knees. Tell God how much you love Him and thank Him for everything you can think of. Then give Him your day, energy, passion, desire, and needs. Talk to Him throughout your day. Turn off the radio while you drive and picture Him sitting beside you. Tell Him what is on your mind and ask Him advice. Then wait for the answer. He is faithful to always respond ... we often simply assume He will not. Finally, treat each day with the desire to make your Heavenly Father smile. I like to close my eyes and picture my actions bringing a smile to His face.'"

On Facebook, Liberty student Lindsay Beck wrote: "Dr. Jones had a spirit of peace and humility about her that radiated every time she entered the classroom. I learned more than just education related topics from her, most importantly I learned about God's love by her words and actions she displayed."

Katie Gordon, who was in Jones' class last semester, said Jones would "always get down on her knees in front of the desk and pray for us."

Jones is survived by her husband Raymond and son Raymond Jr.

A funeral service for Jones and her son is planned for 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at Thomas Road Baptist Church.

Compiled by Liberty University and Baptist Press staff.

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